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Celebration time!

We landed in Vancouver a few days ago and were hosted by the closest I have to a brother and his partner of 18 years. Even though he was full-on with organising the upcoming Pride events, my adopted brother still threw us a fabulous BBQ gathering of friends and made time to hang and enjoy. That’s love, that’s family.

It isn’t to say friends haven’t struggled, but growing up gay in Canada is an entirely different proposition than in other parts of the world where public marriages and very closeted private encounters is a survival mechanism. Where being honest with yourself about whom you love is illegal. That’s not love.

So today – let’s celebrate that our LGBTTQ friends south of the border finally have the right to not only love who they want, but can even commit through marriage to their partner if they so chose.

I only hope that one of these days, India (and other countries) will finally take a step forward and decriminalize same-sex love. Then take another step forward and recognise gay partnerships on the same footing as heterosexual ones.

After all – all you need is love!

Love (Everyday Asia)

Love in Tokyo, July 2014 (Everyday Asia)

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So long, farewell!

As we prepared our home for the demolition gang, completed last-minute shopping, we struggled with the internet… Yes… living in Mumbai you cannot rely on having one internet alone!

You would think having easy access to four options (yeah that’s 1..2..3..4…) would be enough:

  • My so-called ‘high speed’ internet has been down for two days and counting…
  • My partner’s slow but steady MTNL internet was sorta kinda working but now has gone from barely functioning to not…
  • Our recently re-charged data card isn’t compatible with my MacBook Air…
  • So I’m on my back-up to the back-up to the back-up… using my phone as a ‘hot spot’… however the signal keeps dashing off leaving me intermittently ‘high and dry’ as the city drowns in monsoon floods

Because ultimately the monsoon is the real culprit in this equation. And the poor drainage conditions in this city that leads to regular flooding, damaging cable connections and more.

I’m not sure how often I will post over the coming weeks while we trot around the globe to London, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto and back to London… so quick before I lose this precious connection… ciao for now and catch you in a bit!

Looking to London, then Van-Groovy... then Winterpeg... T.O. and back to Big Ben!

Looking to London, then Van-Groovy… then Winterpeg… T.O. and back to Big Ben!

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You know you are in trouble when…

We all know that when construction folks say “It is a 5 days job” it is likely to be more. It is practically a universal phenomenon that unexpected developments occur in any major project.

In India, you can reliably double the time so I wasn’t surprised when “5 days” work in our bedroom stretched to two weeks. What was amusing to discover was the different definition of “done.” According to the contractor, “finished” looks like this… (more…)

“We don’t want your money!” Indian mutual fund cos deny Canadians because of the Americans

After the agonising effort to get my address dutifully updated with various mutual fund countries in India, I was slapped with a rude rebuff.

I can no longer invest in India.

It used to be that someone in my circumstances living long-term in India could invest in mutual funds. Which makes sense given this is my country of residence, where I’ve earned most of my money in the last 12 years, where all my global income is taxable.

It would be logical, therefore, that what little savings I have should be invested here. Right?

Wrong. refuse_1 I won’t go into all the details, but it has something to do with FATCA – Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. Which on the face of it is for Americans. To make sure that Americans or those with direct interests in the US are properly paying their American taxes.

But wait – I’m Canadian. I’ve never worked in the US. I’ve never held property in the US. Frankly other than a few short visits, rarely am ever IN the US. And Canada even has an intergovernmental agreement with the US to fairly cover off these matters.

What does that have to do with India?

Well… heck if I know but apparently it does.

As I understand it, most Indian Mutual Fund companies didn’t register with the IRS by the Jan 2015 deadline. Which means they’ve simply decided to avoid any new investments from not only US citizens but Canadian as well!

Last time I checked, Canada was not the 51st American state. Except, apparently, according to the Indian mutual fund industry… I want you to pay your taxes I accidentally discovered this when I went to make an on-line switch. It was declined.

Further investigation revealed I’ve fallen down some bizarre global tax rabbit-hole. I made several efforts to find a solution, explaining to no avail repeatedly that I’m not actually American, have zero interests in the US, that my tax jurisdiction is India… nix! None will touch my money as they don’t want to get into trouble with the Americans.

Naturally, there were – ahem – creative suggestions on how to get around this. I won’t name names… but let’s just say I was encouraged to lie about my nationality to get around the restriction. Sorry, but I’m not about to do that.

So… anyone want my money??

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Passport power… cross-border crossing from different countries

I wonder if there will ever come a day when the double standard of differential access to countries will cease?

I recently stumbled across an interesting info graphic by Rosie Spinks for GOOD Magazine. (see also a modified version below)

Rosie Spinks infographic in Good Magazine

Rosie Spinks infographic in Good Magazine

It poses the question, how powerful is your passport?

I never take for granted the privilege of possessing a Canadian passport or the opportunity to make India my adopted home.

However, just to put into perspective:

  • Canada has visa-free access to 170 countries around the world
  • Whereas India has visa-free access to only 52 countries

With a partner possessing an Indian passport, I witness regularly first-hand the additional steps required – most recently as he renewed his UK tourist visa for our upcoming Canada – UK trip.

Cross-border crossings for me are easy. For him, even though clearly he travels internationally regularly for work and pleasure, it is not so straightforward. I can take an impromptu trip to Amsterdam, whereas he cannot and most travel requires advance planning with visa applications.

So far, we are able to navigate these matters, however it breaks my heart to hear of stories where couples with different countries of origin, struggle… when love goes global, governments do not always agree!

I ask you then, what is your passport power? If you have someone else in your life, does your partner / spouse / significant other possess a different passport? How does that impact your lives?

Would love to hear your stories and invite guest posts – just drop me a line at info[at]everydayasia.com. 

Here is a version modified by move hub that may be a bit easier to read online:

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Mumbai monsoons…

I returned from Singapore to a muggy Mumbai… the kind of weather where you feel sluggish and slow.

I also returned with a freshly injured ankle, so put myself under ‘house arrest’. Which meant an opportunity to witness our living room be transformed into

  • A salon for theatrical readings of new plays my partner is planning to produce…
  • A film set where our bookshelves became backdrop to a short scene
  • An impromptu evening of merriment (my favourite kind!)

While I busied myself with post-Singapore trip follow-up, plunged into the depths of accounts (ugh!), day after day, we had no respite from the humid heat. Teasingly, rains would come only at night where the drop in temperature had negligible impact.

Each morning our maid would share her impatience for the rains…  everyone knows how important a good monsoon is to the people and economy of this country. A poor monsoon is devastating. A good monsoon brings prosperity.

Early this morning the heavens opened and the deluge began… and didn’t stop… I think it’s safe to say hello monsoon! Welcome back and may you shower us with blessings this year!

Monsoon evening sky...

Monsoon evening sky…

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Swinging into Singapore – an ‘alternate’ home

Lately I’ve been caught calling Singapore my ‘alternate’ home…

My original home is Canada.

My adopted home is India.

My work home is often (happily!) Indonesia among many other countries across Asia.

However my international company is based in Singapore. It is my work hub, my frequent hop stop from various countries… and when I’m away too long, I get this itchy feeling… and my fingers reach out to book a flight!

Up in the air - again!

Up in the air – again!

So this week I’m off to Singapore for a mad time chock-full of all sorts of activities. A sneak peak into a few include:

  • Zip from airport to an evening of jazz with an old high school buddy
  • Co-facilitate a session at a Women’s Leadership Development workshop
  • Meetings, meetings and more meetings over coffee, lunch, more coffee, maybe some tea… with hopes something somewhere ‘clicks’ and there will be some interesting next steps
  • Slightly mind-numbing accounting and annual file preparation… ugh!
  • Feasting as food is just too good! And best accompanied with friends and general fun faffery
  • Explore a few whisky hot spots with more than one set of fabulous folks
  • Inspect (oops meet!) the new ‘man’ of a dear friend and see how the little one of another is growing up!
  • A stroll along the East Coast… just because I’m lucky enough to be staying nearby

Honestly… I can’t wait to get on that plane and plunge back into Singapore life for a few days.

And I know… none of this sounds like a wild ‘explore the world’ kinda trip. It is just catching up on regular life type activities.

Because after all… Singapore is my ‘alternate’ home.

Daily commute from the East Coast to CBD, Singapore

Daily commute from the East Coast to CBD, Singapore

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